Ryan Day Knows Exactly What He Wants In a Defense

Ohio State Buckeyes football head coach Ryan Day

When Ryan Day took over the Ohio State football program, he began retooling the team in his image.

Ironically, however, the image that may most resemble Day as a coach right now is the defensive side of the ball.

His only hire on offense was Mike Yurcich as co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Yurcich’s job is to replace Day and get the quarterbacks ready for next month’s game and beyond.

Defensively, Day had to make changes in the back seven, and he didn’t hold back. He now has two coaches for the linebackers and two coaches for the secondary.

Five defensive assistants. One page.

“In putting the staff together, I wanted to make sure we had a staff that could solve the problems themselves,” Day said. “I know that as an offensive coach, some of the best environments I’ve been in are when I’ve been able to solve the problems on my own. You want to make sure you’re doing things the way you want to do them. Between Greg Mattison, Larry Johnson, Jeff Hafley, Al Washington and Matt Barnes, there’s so much experience in that room, I believe in them that they’re going to solve the issues that come up, because there will be issues that come up.”

Day knows what he wants from his defense, which is why he has assistant coaches who he believes will make it happen.

But he won’t be entirely hands off.

“There are times I’ll stick my head in there and say, ‘Have you looked at this?’ Sometimes you can’t see the trees in the forest. ‘Hey, in August camp we’re going to attack you in this formation because you’re a little short over here,’ or ‘You’re giving away this blitz because this linebacker is doing this.’ Those are the things I help them with, general ideas as opposed to specifics.”

At some point during the 2013 season — perhaps in the first half of the Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State — Urban Meyer decided he wanted a defensive system similar to one that Mark Dantonio’s Spartans ran. Meyer hired Chris Ash to get it done, which he did.

Ash brought in the Quarters defense that had given Meyer’s Buckeyes difficulties. If it was good enough to stop his own offense, it should be good enough to stop everyone else’s.

One national title 12 months later and he was proven correct.

In December, Ryan Day was put in the same position.

“What do you want your defense to look like?”

Like Meyer, Day looked to his own experiences on offense and decided to go with the kind of defense that frustrates him as a play caller.

“I think it’s a combination. First off, we have to stop the run. That goes without saying,” Day said. “To say it’s bend but don’t break or say it’s aggressive and challenge every throw, I think it’s a combination of the two things.

“As an offensive coach, I think about the guys who give us the hardest time and it’s the combination of those two things. If you know it’s bend but don’t break, you can check the ball down and be smart and kind of work your way down the field. If it’s an aggressive defense, you put your man-beaters together and roll.”

The key is being unpredictable instead of trusty and repetitive.

That unpredictability will then also allow things to remain a bit simpler for the players.

“The teams that change things up I think are the best in terms of defending the pass, and then having the ability to blitz when needed,” Day said. “You want your defense to not have to think too much, play fast, identify tendencies and keys and play with a lot of speed.”

8 Responses

  1. Urban Meyer had favorite pet players and coaches throughout his career that never made sense to the fans (Schiano – JT – Werner). Hopefully that will change. I will never forgive him for benching Cardale Jones. Good riddance. Good luck Day.

  2. Agree with him 100%. This is too talented a D to not interrupt any O. The D was solid last year, but gave up too many ‘record’ type breaking big plays and in many ways was falsely maligned.
    1. Our O struggled mightily against MN, PUR, NE, and MSU
    2. Our D held PUR for the most part to just 7 pts. in the first half and when tired gave up 28 pts. in the fourth.
    3. Typical to Urban’s Ds, our D was able to dominate stretches of the game when we flipped the scoreboard or put the game out of reach; see 4th quarter at PSU, last 40 minutes against MI, MSU, first half WA, 2nd half NE, 4th quarter, NW and etc…
    4. Remember our D MVP and arguably the best if not the top 3 defender, Bosa was lost at the TCU game.

  3. Why did urban switch away from the quarters defense that worked so well once Schiano arrived in 2016?
    Why didn’t he push to bring it back after the struggles in 2017 and 2018 on defense?

    1. Posted by: @Rami A

      Why did urban switch away from the quarters defense that worked so well once Schiano arrived in 2016?
      Why didn’t he push to bring it back after the struggles in 2017 and 2018 on defense?

      Good question.

  4. Honestly…I think fan’s need too face the fact. Some good players are not gonna play much this year. If we go with Tuf Borland either Mitchell or Browning are NOT gonna play much. If we go with Wade at safety & White at bullet, Proctor is gonna sit. And Pete Werner is always slated too start at Sam. It seems as if his spot is always given to him. Dispite performance. Should be fun….

    Tuf Borland in…Mitchell & Browning out.
    Wade in…Proctor out.
    Werner in…Gant out
    Arnette in…Wade to safety

  5. Interested to see what happens. Defense WILL be solid. Offensively I think things will look differently this year. Will be less explosive.Thanks, B

  6. Everything I have seen from the new HC thus far, indicates his remarks are not just coachspeak ( FAR too much of that with Meyer). In reality, he could have prepared a 15 minute “lowlight” reel of last year’s atrocities on defense, shown it to the new staff, and instructed them by saying, ‘Don’t let THAT happen again”. I think one key indicator for improvement is we need to see a couple changes in returning players who started last season, and in the back 7 rotation, throughout the first couple games. If it is same as last year, then buckle up because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. If not, it would actually be difficult for the defense to have a worse year.

    1. I really think this defensive staff, while not having their finger set for a too quick trigger, are definitely prepared and willing to squeeze the trigger and make changes on the fly WITHOUT the HC having to sit through the bumbling and refusal to adapt and change for half a year.before he finally gets involved.

      If a defense gives up a couple of big plays this week, why, and how can we prevent it. If a defense gives up those same plays for 2 weeks or more there is a serious scheme problem and it can’t wait until next week to get fixed.

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